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Posts tagged ‘skin cancer’

Skin cancer: Package holidays blamed for rise


The most dangerous form of skin cancer is now five times more common than it was in the 1970s.

Cancer Research UK’s latest figures reveal 13,000 people now develop malignant melanoma each year.

The charity says the dramatic rise can be partly attributed to the increasing popularity of package holidays and to more people using sunbeds.

Ben Geoghegan reports.

via BBC News – Skin cancer: Package holidays blamed for rise.

Protect and preserve


The best thing you can do for your skin is to apply sun protection, writes Meera Murugesan

FORGET the lotions, potions, creams and serums that promise to prevent ageing. The best gift you can give your skin is to protect it from the sun.

Every second that we’re exposed to the sun, our skin cells get damaged says Dr Chang Choong Chor, consultant dermatologist at Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur.

Fortunately, we have a very good immune system on our skin, a complex DNA repair mechanism. Every time cells are damaged, the DNA is immediately corrected but if we get exposed to too much sun for the body to handle, then we will start to see negative effects and these include sunburn, pigmentation, wrinkles and in the worst cases, skin cancer.

“That’s why sun protection is the most important anti-ageing tool,” says Dr Chang.


Most Malaysians know the importance of sun protection but many do not realise that for best results, it’s important to know how to choose a sunscreen and to apply it correctly.

Dr Chang advises consumers to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

UVB affects mainly the epidermis so people may get problems such as tanning and sunburn but UVA can penetrate deeper into the skin, and affect the collagen and elastic fibres in the skin. It not only results in wrinkles but also plays an important role in causing skin cancer.

Dr Chang says it’s also important to look for products that won’t clog the pores and people with sensitive skin, eczema or a history of breaking out in rashes after using certain products, need to pay extra attention to the ingredients listed.

For general purposes, a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor 15 should be adequate but those with a higher risk of skin cancer, or who are very prone to skin sensitivity after sun exposure, would need a higher protection level. Fair-skinned people, for example, are more sensitive to the sun and some people have certain diseases that make them more sensitive to sunlight, such as those suffering from lupus. These people need products with a higher SPF level.

“I sometimes recommend SPF50 and above for people who are worried about skin cancer or those who already have sun damaged skin,” says Dr Chang.


Proper application is also crucial. Always apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and apply liberally.

Most people tend to use too little, says Dr Chang. For example, if someone uses a product with SPF15 but doesn’t apply enough, he or she won’t even be getting that level of protection.

Application should also cover all areas exposed to the sun and besides the face, the upper chest, back and shoulders should not be missed.

Depending on the level of exposure, it may be necessary to repeat applications throughout the day.

Dr Chang says if a person applies once in the morning and then goes to work and he or she works mostly indoors, then a once-a-day application should be fine.

However, if they tend to be out and about all day long in the sun, they need to reapply every two hours.

He adds that sun protection is not just about using sunscreen but also includes other tools such as umbrella, hat, sun-protective clothing, sunglasses and tinting of windows to block the sun’s rays.

What it means

PA Rating

A sunscreen with a PA rating means it blocks UVA rays.

The more “+” signs it has, the higher the UVA protection.

The maximum “+” sign a sunscreen can have is three.

Choosing a sunscreen

WHEN choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to make sure that it offers long-lasting stable protection against both UVA and UVB rays. SPF protection alone is not enough as that measures protection against UVB rays only, not UVA. A combination of SPF and a PA rating (on a product) means protection against UVB and UVA rays respectively.


via Protect and preserve – Health – New Straits Times.

Drug licensed for advanced rare skin cancer

Radiotherapy and surgery are the currently the only treatment options

Cancer experts have welcomed a move that makes a drug for patients with advanced skin cancer available in the UK.

Regulators have licensed Erivedge (vismodegib) for people with severe basal skin carcinoma.

Currently, treatment is limited to surgery or radiotherapy.

Cancer Research UK, whose scientists discovered the mechanisms the drug uses, said the decision was “great news for patients”.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the UK and is often found on the head and neck.

Around 700 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with an advanced form of the cancer – a small number, but cancer experts say the lack of treatment options currently available is what makes this change significant.

Many will have already had surgery and radiotherapy, and it is often considered inappropriate for them to have further procedures

“This drug is a major advance for the treatment of this disease” ”

Dr Harpal Kumar

Cancer Reseach UK

Erivedge, made by Roche, had to be licensed by the European Medicines Agency before it could be made available in the UK.

The drug, which patients take once a day, costs around £6,000 per month.

Clinicians who want to give it to their patients will have to apply to the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, doctors would have to ask their local health provider to fund the drug.

Hedgehog pathway

The drug works by blocking a process in the body that has gone awry.

The hedgehog pathway is a chemical process that is normally only active in the early stages of life and which becomes less so in adulthood.

The reactivation of this process is responsible for cell growth in more than 90% of basal cell carcinoma cases.

Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are proud to have played a key role in the early development of this drug and we’re delighted that it has passed this regulatory hurdle and is approved for use in the UK.

“This drug is a major advance for the treatment of this disease, providing advanced basal cell carcinoma patients with a new treatment option.

“This is great news for patients.”

via BBC News – Drug licensed for advanced rare skin cancer.

Scottish skin cancer survival rates at all-time high

Scotland’s skin cancer survival rates have improved dramatically over the past 30 years


Eight out of 10 men and nine out of 10 women diagnosed with the most dangerous form of skin cancer will now survive the disease, according to a new report.

Cancer Research UK said 30 years ago only 58% of men and 78% of women beat the disease.

Scotland’s improved survival rates are linked to better treatment, early diagnosis and awareness of the symptoms, the charity said.

Its latest poster campaign highlights progress but urges more to be done.

Over the summer, it has asked the public to help by entering local fundraising events, returning sponsorship money for Race for Life, or donating goods to one of their charity shops.

Supporters’ generosity

Dr Tim Crook, from the University of Dundee, who treats melanoma and works on Cancer Research UK projects, said: “We’ve come a long way in the fight against skin cancer and that’s largely down to the generosity of supporters who have funded research to help us better understand the disease and find new ways of beating it.

“Eight out of 10 is great, but obviously that means we still need to do more for the two out of 10 where things don’t look so good.”

He said research from Cancer Research UK-funded laboratories had allowed the development of drugs like Vemurafenib, which he said could give patients with advanced melanoma “valuable extra months”.

Cancer Research UK’s Linda Summerhayes said its research was also behind the discovery that faults in a gene called BRAF contribute to over half of all cases of malignant melanoma.

“Since then, our scientists have led efforts to develop drugs that target this gene,” she said.

“Skin cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in the UK, which is likely to be down to our sunbathing habits and the introduction of cheap package holidays in previous decades.”

‘Very lucky’

Long term survivor of skin cancer, Caroline Begg, of Glasgow, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2006, when she was 26-years-old after using sunbeds regularly.

The 33-year-old mother-of-two said: “I was very lucky that my cancer was caught early. I think going to the doctor early and the treatment I received saved my life.

“Now I am the most cautious person in the sun and would never ever use a sunbed.

“I would urge everyone to take care so they don’t have to go through the trauma I did.”

In Scotland, about 1,200 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every year – more than three people per day.

via BBC News – Scottish skin cancer survival rates at all-time high.

Skin cancer ‘able to fight off body’s immune system’

Skin cancer

A deadly form of skin cancer is able to fend off the body’s immune system, UK researchers have found.

Analysis of tumour and blood samples shows that melanoma knocks out the body’s best immune defence.

A potential test could work out which patients are likely to respond to treatment, the Journal of Clinical Investigation reports.

Cancer Research UK said the body’s response was a “complex puzzle”.

Previous work from the team at King’s College London showed that while patients with melanoma produced antibodies that could attack tumour cells, the immune system often seemed powerless to stop the cancer progressing.

But in the latest research they discovered that the subtype of antibody attracted by the melanoma cells was the most ineffective at mounting the right sort of response.

In samples from 80 melanoma patients they say that the conditions created by the tumour attract IgG4 antibodies, which mount the weakest response and in turn interfere with any “strong” IgG1 antibodies that might be present.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

This work is still at an early stage, but it’s a step towards developing more effective treatments for skin cancer”

Dr Kat ArneyCancer Research UK

By mimicking the conditions created by melanomas, they showed that in the presence of tumour cells, the immune system sent out IgG4 antibodies, but when faced with healthy cells it functioned as expected with IgG1 circulating.

They also confirmed that IgG4 was ineffective in launching an immune attack against cancer cells.

Potential test

In additional tests in 33 patients, they found that those with higher levels of the weak antibody IgG4 had a less favourable prognosis compared with those with levels nearer to normal.

Study author Dr Sophie Karagiannis said: “This work bears important implications for future therapies since not only are IgG4 antibodies ineffective in activating immune cells to kill tumours but they also work by blocking antibodies from killing tumour cells.”

She said not only was IgG4 stopping the patient’s more powerful antibodies from eradicating cancer, but it could also explain why some treatments based on boosting the immune response may be less effective in some patients.

Co-author Prof Frank Nestle said more work was needed on developing IgG4 as a potential test to improve patient care by helping to identify patients most likely to respond to treatments.

“This study can also inform the rational design of novel strategies to counteract IgG4 actions,” he added.

Dr Kat Arney, science communications manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “There’s a lot we don’t yet understand about how our immune system recognises and responds to cancer, so we’re pleased to have supported this new research that’s helping to solve such a complex puzzle.

“This work is still at an early stage, but it’s a step towards developing more effective treatments for skin cancer and potentially other types of cancer in the future.”


Ottawa will soon require that tanning beds carry skin cancer warning label

Tanning Bed

OTTAWA — It’s not yet moving to the sometimes hideous pictorial warning labels seen on cigarette packaging, but Ottawa wants to get the message across that tanning beds can be hazardous to your health.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says Health Canada will soon require that all tanning beds carry warnings about skin cancer and other potential dangers.

The proposed changes come after several provinces moved to prevent the use of tanning beds by young people.

Nova Scotia already bans people under 19 from using tanning beds while Manitoba requires written parental consent before anyone under 18 can use them.

And earlier this month, legislation took effect that would ban those under 18 from using tanning beds in Quebec. Ontario and British Columbia have announced plans for similar laws.

France, Germany and Australia also have bans in place affecting younger people.

Using indoor tanning equipment before age 35 significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer, according to research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Canada’s proposed tanning bed labels don’t forbid their use, but instead warn the devices are “Not recommended for use by those under 18 years of age.”

The labels would also read: “Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer,” and carry a list of other health risks associated with tanning.

“The Harper Government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadian families,” said Aglukkaq.

“Young adults should be concerned about the health risks associated with the use of tanning beds, including skin cancer.”

A public comment period on the proposals will close in early May with regulations expected to be posted later this year.

The regulation of tanning beds for commercial use falls under provincial jurisdiction. However, Health Canada regulates the sale, lease and import of tanning beds under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act and Regulations.

“Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it’s also one of the most preventable,” said Canadian Cancer Society president Pamela Fralick.

“Stronger labelling and clearer information about the dangers of tanning beds may reduce the number of young Canadians exposed to this carcinogen, and this is an important step in the right direction.”

Read more:

Aspirin ‘may prevent skin cancer’

The jury is still out on whether aspirin is effective at preventing cancers

An aspirin a day may protect against skin cancer, some experts believe.

People who take aspirin tablets or similar painkillers on a regular basis cut their risk of developing skin cancer – including the most deadly type – malignant melanoma – by about 15%, research suggests.

The work in the journal Cancer involved nearly 200,000 people in Denmark.

But experts say using sunscreen and avoiding too much sun are still the best ways to prevent skin cancer.

Anti-cancer pill?

In the study, approximately 18,000 of the 200,000 participants had been diagnosed with of one of three types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or the rarer but more dangerous malignant melanoma.

There is mounting evidence that aspirin does reduce the risk of some cancers, but it’s too soon to say if this includes skin cancer”

Hazel Nunn Head of health information at Cancer Research UK

The researchers looked at the medical records of the individuals to calculate how many had been prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen over an eight-year period.

Many were taking them for heart conditions or arthritis.

Those who were more frequently prescribed NSAIDs were less likely to have skin cancer.

The higher the dose and the longer a person had been on the medication, the greater the protective effect.

Individuals with more than two prescriptions for NSAIDs had a 15% decreased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 13% lower risk of malignant melanoma.

NSAIDs did not appear to lower the overall risk of basal cell carcinoma – the most common and least aggressive type of skin cancer. But they did cut the risk of basal cell carcinomas developing on certain parts of the body other than the head and neck.


  • Also known as acetylsalicylic acid
  • Used for many years as a painkiller
  • Has an anti-inflammatory action
  • Low-dose (75mg) is already recommended for people with known cardiovascular disease to prevent stroke and heart attack
  • Benefits for healthy people are still unclear
  • Can cause fatal internal bleeding, although this is relatively rare


The researchers from the University Hospital in Denmark say more research is needed to confirm and further explain their findings.

Studies in animals suggest NSAIDs may block the growth of early pre-cancerous skin lesions, but it is not yet clear if this is also the case in humans.

Scientists already suspect that these drugs may protect against many other cancers, including bowel cancer.

The researchers point out that although they found a link with prescriptions they were not able to monitor precisely how much of the drug a person actually took. Also, people can buy drugs like aspirin from a pharmacy without a prescription.

And they did not look at sun exposure – the root cause of skin cancer.

Experts say even if NSAIDs do offer some protection against skin cancer, people still need to be sensible in the sun.

Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK said: “By far and away the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to enjoy the sun safely, and take care to avoid sunburn.

“Sunburn’s a clear sign that your skin’s been damaged, and this damage can build up over time and lead to skin cancer in the future. When the sun’s strong, use a combination of shade, clothes and at least SPF 15 sunscreen to protect your skin.

“There is mounting evidence that aspirin does reduce the risk of some cancers, but it’s too soon to say if this includes skin cancer. Aspirin can have serious side effects – so it’s important to talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits if you’re thinking of taking it regularly.”


Black spots on the face

Also termed “flowers in the land of the dead,” black spots on the face are generally referred to as seborrheic keratosis or senile lentigo, and are gradually formed as the skin ages. There are many people who think that black spots on the face occur only in old age. But they can also occur in younger people who frequently perform outdoor activities and are exposed to ultraviolet rays.

The signs of skin aging such as black spots or wrinkles progress because of the natural aging process or the effects of photo-aging due to UV exposure. Of the two factors, photo-aging is more significant. UV rays damage the collagen and elastic fibers that support the epidermis, which leads to the formation of wrinkles. This might also lead to the occurrence of black spots or skin cancer. Fair-skinned people are more susceptible to sun damage because their melanocytes have less of a skin-protecting effect.



Black spots are commonly noted on body areas exposed to the sun, including the face, back, backs of the hands, arms and legs, where they occur with a rounded or elliptical shape or in a protruded form. In particular, a high presence of black spots on the face suggests that individuals have a type of skin with an increased risk of skin cancer. This deserves special attention. In addition, in adult cases of sudden pruritis in which many black spots are concurrently present, the symptoms might originate from internal malignancy. This should therefore be checked by clinicians.

Black spots can be treated using such methods as electrosurgery, dermabrasion (peeling) and laser therapy in dermatologic clinics. Dermabrasion is a procedure where the skin surface is burned with chemical peeling agents and then peeled away. Skin laser therapy is the most effective treatment, but it may also cause several side effects depending on the characteristics of the black spots or type of skin. Prospective patients should first consult with board-certified specialists in laser therapy. Furthermore, several types of skin whitening ointment can also be used and are effective to some extent. But they are disadvantageous in that they take a longer time to work.

It is natural to want to look younger, but aging is unavoidable. We can, however, maintain our skin if we pay some attention to it. This is not only because black spots on the face and wrinkles can be prevented to some extent by inhibiting the photo-aging process with the use of UV blockers but also because retinoid, dermabrasion and laser therapy are effective at rejuvenating aged skin.

Read More: Korea Herald

Don’t forget that sunblock

DESPITE the rising cases of obesity and heart attacks, we have much to be thankful for. Consider this: Asians are rarely prone to skin cancer. Caucasians, on the other hand, are more at risk because of their light skin colour and low melanin content.

According to Dr Anjalee Mohandas Nair, aesthetic physician at Face Factors Clinic at Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur, Asians are not prone to skin cancers but conditions like melanoma occur, caused by changes in cells called melanocytes which produce a skin pigment called melanin. Melanin is responsible for skin and hair colour. Melanoma can appear on normal skin or it may begin as a mole that has changed in appearance.
“The only way to find out about melanoma or skin cancer is to do a skin biopsy. If the results are positive, you will be referred to an oncologist,” says Dr Anjalee during the Wake Up To Healthy Sunday forum at One World Hotel, Petaling Jaya, recently.


The only way to protect the skin, she says, is to apply sunblock, when indoors or out. The tip of the nose and earlobes are more prone to sun exposure.
However, Dr Anjalee says Asians are obsessed with skin whitening procedures which suppress the melanin content and lessens our protection from the sun. Sunlight burns skin but UV rays further damage it, resulting in uneven skin tone and pigmentation.

“Sunblock is a must, and should be part of one’s skincare regimen. Some moisturisers come with sunblock, but this is usually not sufficient. Look out for the ++ sign on the product: The more ++ signs it has (four is the highest), the better protection it offers. SPF90 (one time application) would usually last eight to nine hours, and is ideal for our climate. Without protection, skin will have more lines and look dull in the long run,” says the 31-year-old.
Dr Anjalee also advises loading up on antioxidants for general well-being.


A balanced diet which includes fruit, protein and carbohydrates should suffice, but the chemicals and preservatives used to prolong the shelf life of vegetables and foods in general may wipe out the antioxidant content.
“Eating out is a common practice as few have the time to cook. Junk food and stress can also play havoc with our health. Consuming antioxidant supplements or fruit juices will help the skin and keep our wellness at an optimum level.”

Dr Anjalee also says good skin is a combination of internal and external forces. Face scrubs remove layers of dead skin cells and a proper skincare regime with two cleansers, moisturisers, serum and sun block is vital. Toners are optional, depending on one’s preference (most contain alcohol and can dry out the skin). It is also important to choose products that suit your skin.
If you go for facials be aware of what products and machines they are using. “For example, microdermabrasion uses a machine to remove seven layers of the skin and one will not be able to go out in the sun for a month! The procedure will also require the skin to be numbed before it is peeled. Usually this is done for severe acne cases and what the normal salons do are just a deeper form of exfoliation,” says Dr Anjalee.


It is also important to find the right medical practitioner, who uses safe products and machines. Usually, a trained and reputable cosmetic surgeon will be thoroughly knowledgeable in the use of the machine, the procedure and how to handle complications should a reaction develop. “It is better to pay a little extra and be safe rather than sorry,” says Dr Anjalee.

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